Getting into Pinto
Pros: * First and last several holes have truly great topology: rolling or steep ground, abundant trees, etc.
* Plenty of opportunities to practice your big throws, but with several incentives to keep your throw under control--an interesting tension between those urges is the norm here
* Breezy in an interestingly challenging way (pace my coming complaints about the open-field holes)
* Quite good maps posted beside several tees
* Really pretty setting--the eutrophic lake appears often, and even the relatively boring open-field holes boast some nice trees in the distance
* Abundant trash cans, in case you happen to have some pieces of aluminum you'd rather carry no further
Cons: * Middle half of the course is a sun-exposed, fairly repetitious series of runs down generally flat fairways flanked by tall foxtail grass (which science has proven bears a pronounced appetite for plastic) -- not terrible, but not really presenting interesting choices either (unless the choice of when to give up the search for your disc is interesting)
* World's worth of poison oak surrounding the other half of the holes
* Maybe 3 or 4 times, the gap between holes requires a surprisingly long walk--in a couple of cases with weak or missing signage
Other Thoughts: If it weren't so far off the beaten path, I'm sure I would play this course much more often.
2 Helpful / 3 Not
This Course is Over rated
Pros: -The first 4 holes were awesome and the last 3 holes are pretty cool
Cons: - I believe it is 5-12 is terrible,I can't remember because they melt together as one long continuous throw, you are just throwing bomber after bomber in an open field. It was cool on the first couple cause you could really let loose and rip it but then it got old real quick especially on a summer day where there was no shade and you were just basically walking around in a field throwing the disc as hard as you could for ever
Other Thoughts: Like I said the first couple holes were cool,
I really liked the look on 2 and there are some cool looks on the last few but those holes in-between made me sorry i made the trek down there. Do your self a favor and just go to De la.
Defiantly not a destination course.
2 of 5 people found this review helpful.
7 Helpful / 0 Not
Shoe-horned strong design, mixed impressions
Pros: - in good shape. good quality teepads and signage.
- some fun & challenging layouts (1, 2, 12, & 18). 1 starts out open then slopes right and down into the woods where the basket sits in a pocket of small trees. Hole 2 winds through a grass-covered creekbed. The pin is perched on a slope past a fenced line of OB. These were my 2 favorites of my round.
- Good variety of big open shots and tight lines. A bit on the flat side but there's enough creative use of elevation to keep it interesting.
Cons: - yup, lots of poison oak and thick brush
- the stretch of open prairie holes got a bit dull after awhile. I don't have a "big arm" to test and wind wasn't really a factor the day I played. I threw a couple feet into OB once. I just kind of shrugged it off, added a stroke and moved on. Meh.
- This course doesn't flow well. It starts out strong in the woods. You then hike up a hill to a looong string of wide open prairie throws. Then you're back into the bush for some awkward and sometime wicked layouts.
- Some holes were just plain weird and nasty (16 especially)
Other Thoughts: I guess I fall into more of the casual player category. I definitely want to be challenged but also have a fun, varied, pleasant day at the park. I was certainly challenged but I felt the course sometimes lacked the fun-factor. I had a mixed experience playing here.
It seems that the designers' main focus was to create a professional-caliber course. They've certainly accomplished that but in the process have made some sacrifices that prevent it from being more highly ranked and broadly appealing.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 2 Not
Pros: Beautiful setting and didn't run in to any big crowds.
Good mixture of technical and power shots required. You really get to practice all aspects of your game.
Cons: Poison oak is growing EVERYWHERE. Baskets are lower than any course I've played. Not a very efficient course lay out which makes you wonder why they crammed so many holes in.
Other Thoughts: There are 14 holes that are layed out well and are alot of fun and 4 that make you scratch your head why they are even a hole. Do yourself a favor and go 10 miles down HW1 to Delaveaga.
2 of 4 people found this review helpful.
12 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: The beginning and end of the course play through a wooded area. These holes offer some challenging low ceiling shots with enough length to make you want to pull out a driver but enough punishment that staying on the fairway is at a premium. There's a pretty good mix of shot types required off the tee in these sections of the course.
The middle half of the course is in an open prairie area. The main challenges here are wind, length and tall grass ob lining the fairways. You'll need to focus on shot placement to stay on the fairways and avoid OB and lost discs. These holes play in many different directions so you have to deal with different wind conditions.
The course has nice concrete tees, and signage with distance. There are a few long walks, and there are enough next tee signs to figure out where to go.
Cons: I personally don't enjoy prairie golf. It's a little better when the long grass areas are marked OB like this, but it's still not a fun and rewarding style of course for me. I find it frustrating to have to search for any disc that even barely misses the fairway, and doubly so when the rough is full of foxtails that fill your shoes and socks with irritating pointy seeds.
The wooded section is a lot of fun, but the poison oak is pretty thick off the fairways, something to watch out for. The signage doesn't have hole layout, just distance, it would be nice to have a better idea of where you're going on a few of the holes. There were two to three different signs on some holes, often with different distances, not sure what's going on with that. The long walks really break up the flow of this course, a couple of them are quite long.
Other Thoughts: Beginners will find this course pretty frustrating between the tough woods holes and the open holes where it's easy to lose discs if you're not accurate and good at playing the wind. More experienced players will find some nice challenges, especially if they like the more open prairie style golf. (If you do like that kind of course, then my rating shouldn't dissuade you from playing here)
12 of 12 people found this review helpful.
5 Helpful / 1 Not
Air it out boys!
Pros: Best mix of open and wooded holes in the area
Best place to bring your buddy from out of town who brags about his 400+ ft drives
Obvious difficulty on some holes, and deceptive difficulty on others
Nice, easy hike through varied settings
Perfect place to work on your windy day play
Pros that I won't write about:
Bathroom on site, well marked holes with beautiful (if out of date) tee signs, real concrete tees, very well groomed, very easy navigation, uniform Mach3 baskets, friendly local players, no crowds.
Cons: PO is around for sure
The rough can be pretty rough
Locals/public walking really really slowly through holes, hanging out in innapropriate places, and/or generally being in the way
Other Thoughts: Pinto is fantastic. Being located in Watsonville seems to have hit it with a tiny bit of stigma, but it's world-class. Bring your patience, your favorite wind discs, and your Tecnu. This hasn't got the technical demands of DeLa, but I find it more mentally difficult thanks to the tricky winds and the temptation to throw too hard.
Best mix of open and wooded holes in the area/Best place to bring your buddy from out of town who brags about his 400+ ft drives:
This course is really two separate, and very different, courses thanks to the original 9 and the Worlds additions. This is a strength. The first and final few holes are wooded and technical, while the middle holes are wide open. DeLa has a nice mix of these two as well, but it has nothing on the amount of air the big boys can bring out in the meadow at Pinto. Bring along your longest disc, as long as you know it'll come back.
Obvious difficulty on some holes, and deceptive difficulty on others:
There are some beautifully tough holes on this course. 1 and 2 are the best first two holes I've ever seen. Both are technical and long, with lots of risk/reward and opportunity to go OB. I could play just those two holes for hours.
Jhern put it perfectly in his review when he said that people who claim that the meadow is easy probably aren't playing OBs, which is just silly since they are well marked. It's very true that the fairways are wide open, but they are deceptively narrow, especially beyond 300 ft. Combine the tricky fairways with the tricky winds and you've got a tricky shot on many of the holes. The grass pulls rollers flat early. What people don't mention is the part that testosterone plays in making the meadow tough: since there are no trees in the way, and the fairways are huge for the first 100 ft, we all feel like we should be able to throw as hard as we want. Unfortunately, this affliction, mixed with the narrowing fairways and the often heavy/gusty winds mean that discs flip/flop and go OB shockingly often, even for skilled players. The bane of my Pinto score is always the number of discs that end up six inches out of bounds.
Nice, easy hike through varied settings:
Pretty much equal distance to DeLa in only 18 holes. This tells you that the holes are LONG, and they are (and without the favorable elevation that helps you out at places like Ryan). It's also a bit of a hike, but it's pretty easy walking. The complaints about this aspect are so foreign to any I've ever heard from disc golfers. Everyone I've ever played with lists the walk through beautiful country to be one of the pros to disc golfing. Pinto is very pretty, especially hole 12 now that it's been cleared of most of the PO.
Perfect place to work on your windy day play:
The wind really kicks off of the lake. It humbles me. Unless you are a demon in the wind, enjoy the suspense of waiting to see if your disc will turn over early, or not at all.
PO is around for sure:
I grew up playing in SC, so PO and DG always go hand in hand. I carry a bar of Fels Naptha in my trunk and wash up afterwards, no matter where I play. If PO is a big issue, unfortunately you need to cross all of the Central Coast courses off your list.
The rough can be pretty rough:
From the marsh, to the old growth PO, to the tall marsh grass, this course can definitely steal your plastic.
Locals/public walking really really slowly through holes, hanging out in inappropriate places, and/or generally being in the way:
This is my single biggest complaint about Pinto, in terms of something that can wreck the rhythm of a round.
There is a nature trail that shares the space of a number of the holes. People jogging the path aren't too irritating, given that they move fast enough to only interrupt the hole for a few seconds. People going birding also get out of the way. It's the parties of aged folks strolling along, in apparently straight lines from the tee-pads, directly toward the pins, at .2 miles per hour, none of whom respond to screams (even those of "¡Cuidado!").
My favorite story of people misusing the space comes from the ancient days of Pinto. I talked to someone who stepped up to the pad to throw on what is now 17. He looked across the gully to see a big family that had packed the basket with coals and hung chicken from the chains.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
9 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: -Defined variety between open and wooded
-Spread out with distinctly different holes
-2 Practice Baskets
-Cool distance markers along the holes, although they didn't always make sense
-Technical, lots of risk/reward in wooded holes
-Mixture of different pars, lots of par 4 and a par 6.
-Good views from course
Cons: -Poison Oak
-Navigation is a little quirky
-Open holes are out of the way
-3 separate loooong walks
-Pacing of the course is weird
Other Thoughts: Pinto Lake DGC is a combo course on two distinctly different pieces of land. The wooded holes lie on some rugged terrain covered with oak and eucalyptus trees and substantial ground cover, some poisonous and some not. These holes require distance and precision to keep your scores low. The open holes are all on a relatively flat meadow adjacent to the course.
This Worlds 2011 course has some great long, technical wooded holes that will challenge even the best of players, and starts right out with some quite difficult holes. OB comes in to play and is designated by yellow rope on the ground. Generally, the OB is in places you really don't want to be in the first place, and if you are OB, there is a good chance you are also lost forever in a sea of poison oak. Holes 1-4 are all high quality wooded courses that are clearly very well planned.
Holes 5-12 are in a meadow and all are open shots, and is a welcome sight after playing through some technical areas. Even though they may appear to be simple straightforward holes, they all have OB marked on both sides of the fairway, and the landing zones can be somewhat difficult to hit for those who need lots of space for full power drives. The land is also maintained between the OB ropes, but not outside of them. Hole 11 is a monster 1000+ foot hole with a valley in the middle.
After hole 12, you enter the woods again to finish off the last 6 holes of the course, all of which are once again technical. They were all pretty good, average wooded holes. As a whole they were less spectacular than the front.
Hole 13 to me was the definition of a filler hole. After doubling back alongside hole 12 and continuing to walk for around a quarter of a mile, you just reach a random teepad in the middle of the road, which shoots to a random basket down the road. It's like it was just plopped there to keep you busy. Oh, not to mention, if you throw anything that remotely fades in any direction, you will be in poison oak. It is obvious they did a good job eradicating the plant from necessary parts of the course, but it is definitely still there and needs to be steered clear of. Hole 13 is where the newer members of your group will learn to start throwing mids/putters off the tee, because they will lose their drivers to the oak.
Hole 16 was a little weird, it shoots down a path, then up a hill, to a pin that is quite elevated. This one seemed fun to play if you are familiar with the course but is definitely one that caused a lot of head scratching for our first timer group.
Hole 17 is a great short shot across a ravine, and is a welcome ace attempt with a good chance at birding. Hole 18 was my favorite of the whole course, a wonderful down-then-up right turning dogleg with a double mandatory. With its OB's and technical layout, it was definitely worthy of Worlds competition.
The open holes felt very 'PDGA' and the wooded holes were, for the most part, very well done. The only complaints are the crazy long walks and the poison oak. The walk from 4 to 5 is long and steep and the gratuitous poison oak medication advertisement didn't make any of us laugh. The walk from 12 to 13 was really ridiculous, and then the walk from 13 to 14 just started getting annoying. Not to beat a dead horse, but regarding the poison oak; I have read the reviews and understand that it is 'better than before,' but on some holes it really did get in the way and I had little interest in actually playing the hole correctly; instead just hucking a putter down the 'fairway' till I got to the basket. Also, I feel like the open shots and the wooded shots should be two separate 9 hole courses, and hole 13 needs to be re-imagined all together.
Overall, we felt that there are better courses to play in the area but this one is also nice. It just seemed more rugged and dirty than the other ones, but at minimal fault to the designer. You can tell care has been put into the property with meticulous maintenance of the fairways and OB designations, however with the constant fear of hitting poison oak on more than a few of the holes, this is not a course I would want to play on a regular basis casually. Several holes are worthy of a 4.5 rating, but with the walks, the poison oak, and the lack of flow, it really brought my rating down. A better way to connect the meadow with the rest of the course and some more poison oak eradication would make this another top notch course for the Monterey/Santa Cruz area.
9 of 10 people found this review helpful.
2 Helpful / 3 Not
Pros: Technical, long, beautiful
Cons: Poison oak central, but much has been cleared. Bring your technu for after.
Other Thoughts: This is a amazing course, the local caretakers have cleared it for the worlds so if you played it 4 months ago but didn't like how brushy it was, come again, you'll be amazed. Get your game on
2 of 5 people found this review helpful.
3 Helpful / 5 Not
Pros: It's a decent alternative for those who live in Santa Cruz. It has a lot of shade which is nice.
Cons: Poison Oak most everywhere. Team entitlement spends a lot of time out there taking 20 minutes to play a single hole, it backs up huge. You can spot them easily, they are the ones with the chairs. Many crazy long (and likely confusing for noobs) walks between holes. Just an odd layout in general
Other Thoughts: I've played 6 or 8 times now and tried to like the course but I won't return. My best round was +3 so its not like the course kicks my ass every time but many of the holes come down to straight up luck or the old how many times in a row can you throw it as far as you can in a straight line. It's neat to have a hole or two without a logical fairway where you have to huck it through the impassable mire or even a really long hole or two but to me there are only like 4 or 5 nice holes at Pinto. I really like hole 1, hole 2 is a ridiculous mess of OB as if the hole isn't difficult enough without the artificial OB. Hole 3 has no fairway to speak of and is generally a luck hole, hole 4 is the wall of brush or a tiny hyzer thats sort of neat, the long walk to hole 5 starts the throw it as far as you can in a straight line action although a couple are kind of short... in a straight line. Don't go looking for tree's though because you won't see any in play until hole 9 which is a beautiful hole. Hole 10 starts up again with nothing in play but grass. Hole 11 is laughable at 1200+ straight as an arrow. Trust me by now you've already had your fill of throwing straight as far as you can throw it. Hole 12 is a decent hole but then the there is another walk to 13 which is tight and straight but still one of the better holes. Then another long walk to 14 which is another hole that was sort of worked in I guess that pretty much plays straight up a road. Hole 15 is a signature hole for the course, a nice peninsula shot by the lake. Hole 16 is just awkward, you can tempt fate with the big hyzer or throw it straight down the road. Hole 17 is one of those luck shots, you either hit the 2 x 2 strike zone or you bounce off the tree's, lay up ops though. Hole 18 is a another decent hole although for some reason its got OB. Overall, if your headed south to play a "destination" course, I would drive by and play one of the courses in Monterey, I hate to say it but this course needs to be reconfigured into what can be a nice 27 hole course without par 4 and par 5 holes because they aren't helping the place any.
3 of 8 people found this review helpful.
8 Helpful / 1 Not
An epic piece of work
Pros: Pinto Lake Championship Disc Golf Course is another of those stories of an amazing property that had been left idle and neglected for decades, until a crew of dedicated hard-working locals came in an carved a gorgeous course out of the mess...one that is certainly worthy of hosting a World Championship. I first played Pinto Lake in October 2010, which is long after this major project had begun (several years earlier). In just the time I've known Pinto Lake, it has been transformed into one of the most special places for disc golf I've ever experienced. I just can't believe how stunningly gorgeous it is now. In just the past few months the crew has cleared dozens of acres of the most dense and brutal poison oak. They've also established trails, which local residents also come out to enjoy. The stuff was so thick that nobody ever knew there were all these beautiful oak trees hidden in all that mess, which have been excavated, pruned, sculpted, and are now surrounded by green grass and the occasional flower patch. Simply marvelous.
The original 9 holes (1-4,14-18) play through variably dense forested land with big oaks and eucalyptus on finger like peninsulas sticking out into Pinto Lake. Long tight fairways (1,2,3,14,18), lots of elevation, epic par 4 tunnels (hole 2!), and even irresistible ace runs (holes 15,17) are awesome by themselves. The virtual elimination of poison oak from the fairways, the establishment of grassy landing areas, and clearly marked OB along the sides are typical of every hole in this part of the course.
The back 9, including the meadow, have undergone a similar transformation. Don't believe earlier reviews that said these holes are just open bombers...with the variable winds, elevation, and deceptively narrow fairways, it is always a challenge to throw long and not go OB. There is a very good risk/reward trade-off on all these holes, and even the most skilled players go OB quite often if their disc stalls and doesn't turnover, or flips over too long and gets carried off on an air current. Anyone who says its easy out there probably went OB dozens of times without knowing it is OB. The fairways in the meadow are also well-manicured, kept green by watering, and have clear edges with posts and rope installed along the edges of the fairways. They also play fast and skippy when your disc lands, which increases the challenge. Rollers are difficult to use, as the disc always starts curling up and usually runs off OB. I've shot under par on these holes several times, but it required very accurate long upshots and hitting big putts to do so.
There is no question that hole 12 is soon going to be considered one of the most beautiful disc golf holes in the world. Its the one that I dream most about acing. It starts off in the meadow and plays down a gradual slope (357') that begins as a wide fairway, but becomes more and more narrow as you get further down onto a peninsula that is surrounded by Pinto Lake on all sides. Pruned oak trees and manicured grass along the sides get closer together and converge at several larger oaks. To pass further you have to get your disc under the arches, and behind them is a cluster of small/young oaks, with the basket on the other side. As you walk out onto the green, you can enjoy views of the lake and surrounding countryside in all directions through the oaks. Now that the poison oak and other undergrowth are cleared out, the view is spectacular. You might even decide to spend the rest of your day down there...bring a picnic, relax a little while, get into the Pinto Lake vibe.
I love challenge, and hole 14 is probably the most challenging on the course. The goal is to try and play safely up the trail in 2 throws and try to find a window to run at the basket for birdie (par 4). If you stay on the right side of the path, you'll eventually find open sky to the right and an opportunity for a spike hyzer over the top...a really fun shot, but of course, watch out for getting caught by the oak trees if you miss the open window around the basket. If you end up on the left side of the path, you'll be looking at tight routes through the oak trees to the basket.
There are relatively well-kept bathrooms near the parking lot. Also near the parking lot you can find water, picnic areas, BBQ pits, soccer fields, baseball fields, etc.. Its a very nice park, with many of the amenities you'd expect to find in the most popular of all Santa Cruz County Parks.
-Great tee pads
-New Mach 3 baskets
Cons: Stay on the fairway. The rough is really rough in places. The fairways are in superb condition, but OB is different: there is lots of poison oak, stinging nettles, water, and other nasties if you go OB. This isn't a beginner course. Stay on the fairway, and you'll be very happy. If you can't keep it on the fairway, you'll probably not enjoy this course very much. Also, watch out for pedestrians on holes 2, 4, 13, and 14. The manicured course is attracting more people who want to come out and see the beautiful new parkland created for disc golf. The regular part of the park (not the disc golf course) gets really busy on weekends, and parking can sometimes be tough to find. Be sure to plan accordingly.
Other Thoughts: I highly recommend that you play safe the first round, or do a walk-through before playing, and get a feel for the dangers down the fairway before trying anything risky. Check out the map, if you can get online.
The OB areas in the meadow are being left alone to grow up into continuous tree stands. Planting of redwoods, oaks, and other trees is going to help accelerate this process. When you come back in 10 years, this will no longer be called a "meadow" because you won't be able to see across it. Instead, every fairway will be a narrow tunnel playing between juvenile forest on all sides. You won't even be able to see the other holes. If you could come back in 50 years, you'd see large redwood stands lining long narrow shady fairways of emerald green grass. This place is going to be even more epic!
If you're looking for an extra special experience, go to the lower Pinto Lake Park entrance (a mile back on Green Valley Rd), and rent a paddle boat. From there, you can paddle directly across the lake to hole 12.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful.
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